Achill Island. Island in Ireland, Europe

Achill Island

Island in Ireland, Europe

Achill Island Photo © colin redmond

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Achill Island

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	Achill Island
Achill Island. Photo by Mark Waldron
Achill Island, located in County Mayo on the west coast of Ireland, is the country's largest offshore island. The island has been connected to the mainland by bridge since 1887. It occupies an area of about 148 square kilometers.

The island has a long history of human settlement with megalithic tombs and promontory forts dating back 5,000 years. However, the major attraction of Achill Island is its natural beauty. The island's rugged landscape features dramatic cliffs, majestic mountains, and sheltered sandy beaches. There are five bigger settlements on the island; Achill Sound (Wikipedia
	Article), Keel, Dugort, Dooega, and Dooagh.

Mountain walks, five Blue Flag beaches, a deserted village, and a cosy micropub are just a few reasons to visit the island. Once on the Island there is spectacular Atlantic Drive which takes you along a 40-kilometer drive. Cycling is also a wonderful way to discover the island.
Achill is a paradise for lovers of outdoor pursuits and boasts a wide range of outdoor activities, from surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing, and scuba diving to hiking, fishing, and golf. There are also a number of well-renowned craft shops and art galleries to explore as well as numerous festivals to attend. But this is also the perfect place to simply relax and take in the unique atmosphere of the island. Like the rest of Ireland, July and August are the busiest, and warmest months.

Above Achill - Achill Island
Above Achill - Achill Island. Photo by Tan Yilmaz

What to See & Do

Deserted Village of Slievemore

The deserted village is perched on the foothills of Slievemore Mountain and made up of about 80 stone cottages, some dating back to the 12th century. The village is a reminder of the island's past hardships and offers an interesting insight into life on the island in former centuries. After the village was abandoned around 1850, it was still used as a booley in the summer months. The cottages were built of unmortared stone, which means that no cement or mortar was used to hold the stones together. In the past they had thatched roofs. Each stone cottage consisted of just one room and this room was used as kitchen, living room, bedroom, and even stable. Be sure not to miss the Keel East Court Tomb, just east of the deserted village of Slievemore.

Kildavnet Tower,
	Kildavnet, Achill Island, Ireland - Achill Island
Kildavnet Tower, Kildavnet, Achill Island, Ireland - Achill Island. Photo by Janusz Sowa

Kildavnet Tower

The Kildavnet Tower, also known locally as ‘Grace O'Malley's Castle’, is located on the south-eastern shore of the island. It was probably built in the 15th century by the O'Malley's. Set at the water's edge, guarding the waters of Achill Sound, the Tower is 12m in height and has three stories. There is no stairway from the ground or first floor levels and access to the upper stories is not possible, so you can only have a look from the outside.


The Inishbiggle (Wikipedia Article), home to a traditional community, is a tiny, unspoilt island located just 90 meters from Achill Island. The idyllic island is perfect for walking. The Inishbiggle loop passes through the island's quiet and tranquil landscape, boasting fantastic views of the hills of Ballycroy, the mountains of Achill, Corraun, and of Blacksod Bay. The walks begin at the pier at Bullsmouth, where the ferry from Achill Island lands, and at Gubnadoogha, where the ferry from Ballycroy lands. Access is by ferry from either Doran’s Point at Ballycroy, on the mainland, or Bullsmouth and Dooniver.

Food & Drink

Achill's unique range of cafés, family-run restaurants and pubs, offering a range of snacks, soups, hot meals, delicious home-baking, and hot or cold drinks, are yet another great attraction to savor while visiting this lovely island. Seafood is a specialty in the island's restaurants - fresh salmon, lobster, mussels, and trout are available on most menus. Achill lamb is another local specialty dish. Every Friday during the summer, you can buy homemade foods, homegrown produce, local crafts and gifts at the Achill farmer’s market. Mid-July’s annual Seafood Festival offers the opportunity to sample delicious seafood cuisine.

	at Achill Island - Achill Island
Sunset at Achill Island. Photo by Stefano Viola


The island offers a wide range of accommodation, from family-run hotels, guesthouses and B&B establishments, to traditional Irish holiday cottages for self-catering rental.

Getting There & Around

Achill Island is accessible from the mainland by the Michael Davitt Bridge. The island is a 4-hour drive from Dublin, 6 hours from Belfast, and about 2.5 hours from Galway. Take the road to Newport, go through Mulranny village and onto the R319 road to Achill Island. The island itself is very easy to navigate.

To get to Achill by public transport, take a train or bus to Westport or Castlebar and then take Bus Eireann - Route 440 to Achill. The island is also very popular with cyclists. The adventurous can walk or cycle the 42 kilometers long Great Western Greenway, between Achill and Westport.

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Author: Ayda. Last updated: Jun 23, 2015

Pictures of Achill Island

Deserted Village - Achill Island
Deserted Village - Achill Island. Photo by niallosul

Keem Beach - Achill Island
Keem Beach - Achill Island. Photo by Brian Wilson


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